Rigid Plastic Packaging

WRAP has been working with industry to develop recycling of plastics pots, tubs and trays in the UK and ensure that recycling infrastructure and end markets are in place for this valuable resource.

Around 500,000 tonnes of rigid mixed plastics (pots, tubs, and trays) enters the household waste stream in the UK each year and in the UK in 2011/12 45% of local authorities provided kerbside collections of non-bottle rigid plastics, up from 35% the previous year.

Types of rigid plastic recycling

WRAP is working in partnership with industry to overcome technical barriers to recycling. Examples of our work in this area are detailed in below:

Rigid plastic packaging

WRAP has developed a report examining the rigid plastic packaging arising and recycling in the Commercial and Industrial sectors, alongside guidance on how to collect and sort rigid plastic packaging from households.

Rigid plastic packaging >>
Collection and sorting of household rigid packaging >>

Post-consumer polypropylene packaging

WRAP is working in partnership with industry to develop a viable process to improve the identification and sorting of post-consumer packaging (including PET, HDPE and PP) suitable for food-grade application. 

Food grade recycled polypropylene (rPP) in packaging >>

business case for using commercial and industrial material as a source for this type of recycling has also been developed.

Business case for food grade packaging waste >>

Black plastic packaging

Where plastic packaging is required to be black in colour, WRAP encourages retailers, brand owners and packaging manufacturers to use detectable black colourants to enable the environmental benefits of recycling black plastics to be fully realised.

WRAP has worked in partnership with key players in the retail supply chain to improve the recyclability of black plastics and prevent these materials from going to landfill through a 4-phase research project:

Black plastics recycling >>

Tubs, pots and trays

WRAP is increasing the rates of recycling pots, tubs and trays by encouraging design for recyclability, including the use of removable colour systems to help maximise the quality of material, and developing and optimising the recycling process and identifying potential economically viable end-markets for PET from PTTs.

Our work aims to help drive demand and give confidence to the market to collect more mixed plastics and reduce the amount of plastic content reaching landfill. To find some examples of our most recent work, please use the following links:

Removable colour systems report >>
Development and optimisation of recycling process >>
Developing end markets for PET from pots, tubs and trays >>

Business support

To help kick start the development of recycling infrastructure in the UK, WRAP awarded a capital grant to Biffa Polymers to open the UK’s first integrated washing and sorting facility for rigid mixed plastics.

WRAP can now offer support to businesses who wish to implement recycling infrastructure for mixed plastics in England through the Mixed Plastics Loan FundA loan fund and capital grant is also available for mixed plastics recycling in Scotland.

Case study: Biffa polymers mixed plastics recycling facility >>
Mixed plastics loan fund >>

Where next?

Want to know more about plastics in Dry Materials? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information:

Reports >>
Guides >>
Tools >>
Case studies >>